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Marching to the beat of their own voices

Far be it for me to offer unsolicited advice to a bunch of anarchists, socialists, professional protesters and other assorted left-leaning malcontents. But at the risk of being accused of having unnatural political relations with Karl Rove, you could learn a thing or two from the Republicans gathered here for their national convention, and perhaps even from Bain Capital, about time management or shaping the marketing message.

Put that brick down! Now. I'm only trying to help.

If you are going to plan a big protest march decrying the cruel tools of oppression being visited upon the 99 percent of the great — and in this case literally — unwashed, could you please start marching?

The Coalition to March on the RNC was set to step off from Perry Harvey Park and make its way to the official protest zone at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. This would be a grand opportunity to inveigh against all things Republican.

But the problem with liberals, especially when their passions start to percolate, is they have no earthly idea when to shut up.

Before the marching and the chanting and the ever popular toe-tapping refrains of "Whose street? Our street!" began, the several hundred assembled demonstrators were subjected to two hours of nearly 30 speeches by morally outraged people who all managed to say the same thing.

America is being ruled by the jackbooted robber barons of Wall Street. Check. Republicans regard women as mere vessels of procreation. Gotcha. If you're black or Hispanic, who do you think you are? Ten-four. The nation is the world's foremost imperialist power trying to crush our dear friends in Venezuela, Syria and Iran. Down with that.

But should it take 30 speakers on an endless loop of Angela Davis-inspired rhetoric to say that we're up a creek if the Romney cabal gets elected? Look, the assembled crowd was already well on board with the Romney is the Angel of Death shtick.

As the speech-a-thon began, so did the rains, but a little moisture was not about to put a damper on verbosity. The greatest egos on Earth had to press on.

What would a gathering of the Perry Harvey Proletariat be without St. Petersburg's own Omali Yeshitela of the African People's Socialist Party along with his Frau Blucher of the Uhuru movement, Penny Hess, who managed in a just a few short minutes to let everyone know how miserable life is in the United States. And by the time they finished, the crowd would have readily agreed.

It needn't have taken this long. The march certainly was about the great American tradition of activism, petitioning the government for redress of grievances, free speech, free assembly.

And for just one example of what the march was really all about, look to Bobbie O'Brien, a 69-year-old former Hillsborough County school teacher with two knee replacements who had never marched, or demonstrated, or been otherwise politically active until about a week or so ago.

That was when Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, with all the intellectual acuity of an anvil, uttered his now infamous comments about "legitimate rape" while also revealing an obtuse ignorance about the female reproductive system.

That was it for O'Brien, who decided to get involved with the Code Pink women's movement. "I've had this anger all this time," she smiled. Now she intended to put it into action.

Her late son, Todd, was a Tampa Police Department officer who died several years ago from Lou Gehrig's disease. O'Brien cast a glance over at the phalanx of law enforcement officers on hand for the March on the RNC.

"I can hear him giggling now," O'Brien laughed. "And he's saying: 'Now Mom, don't get arrested.' "

For all the prattling on the dais about oppression and inequality and the greedy 1 percent, Bobbie O'Brien is what democracy looks like. It looks like a woman who woke up one day and decided she was simply sick and tired of all the … well, balderdash that passes for political discourse and decided in her own way and on two rebuilt knees to say something about it.

Todd would have been proud of his mother's moment in the rain.

Marching to the beat of their own voices 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 9:27pm]

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